Sunday, August 19, 2012
And Away We Went
Had a great time last Sunday night in Ojai for a reading of Terrence McNally's new play "And Away We Go" at the Ojai Playwright's Conference.
Set to open next year off-Broadway, this delightful play is a Valentine to the theater. Six actors play 36 roles set in six theater troupes over time -- Ancient Greece, England at the time of a "new" play by William Shakespeare and even Coral Gables during the out-of-town tryout of Beckett's "Waiting for Godot."
The show time travels back-and-forth and, at times is a little challenging to keep up. I certainly didn't get all the theater references -- I can't imagine anyone but McNally actually gets them all. But it's like a fun game of Theater Trivial Pursuit -- I felt so proud when I got a joke before the rest of the (major theater) audience.
Anyone who cares about the arts, and the theater in particular, will just love this show -- whether you're a regular audience member, an actor or a theater professional.
After the show Mr. McNally took to the stage to answer questions and to hear comments. One amazing revelation was how much he had changed the show during the week he'd been in Ojai. McNally is a serious opera buff and originally one of the six troupes was an Italian Opera Company. That entire section was ripped out and replaced with a "present day" theater group. I'd love a chance to see the deleted opera sections, but I can also say the modern day sections added much of the poignancy of the piece.
I was too intimidated to ask a question during the Q&A. I was afraid to reveal myself as "just" an audience member. No, my question was not, "Oh Mr. McNally, can I have your autograph?" I really wanted to ask when he writes a piece like this how much of his attention goes to how the show would actually be staged (i.e., that character can't start his monologue for three more minutes because he needs time for a costume change) or does he just focus on getting the right words down on paper and leaves the logistical problems to the director and others?
I may never know.